Ship Fever and Other Stories Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Richard is sensitive about what condition?

Richard is sensitive about his left hand, for he had been born hexadactylic and had the extra finger removed in a childhood operation.

2. What does Richard tell his students about Mendel's life?

Richard tells his students that Mendel had grown up in a small village in northwest Moravia, which had then been part of the Hapsburg Empire and later part of Czechoslovakia. Mendel had studied science and taught at a high school. In 1856, he began his experiments on the hybridization of edible peas. Over the next eight years, Mendel performed hundreds of experiments, tracing how characteristics were passed from generation to generation.

3. Why does Richard smile and look at his wife when he tells the story of Mendel's life?

Richard smiles because of the irony that Mendel had been led astray by another scientist who convinced him to study hawkweeds which are difficult to hybridize.

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